Did you know that nearly 1 in 8 homes in our state could have a radon problem, and the residents would not know it? Colorless, odorless and tasteless, this radioactive gas can increase your risk of lung cancer. Now that many families are turning on their heat, it’s time to know if this dangerous gas is lingering in your home.
October 17-24 is Radon Action Week here in Michigan and across the United States. Health agencies throughout the United States have joined forces to promote awareness of the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. The American Lung Association, Centers for Disease Control, and National Cancer Institute all agree that radon is a National health problem and encourage radon testing during the October awareness drive.
Radon is naturally occurring in rock and soil. It can enter buildings through cracks or openings in the foundation of floors and walls, around sump openings, or spaces around plumbing. It occurs in both new and old homes, or houses built over a basement, over a crawlspace or built on slab-on-grade.
Millions of Americans are unknowingly exposed to this dangerous gas. In fact, a recent study by Harvard University ranks radon as America’s #1 in-home hazard. By taking simple steps to test your home for radon and fix if necessary, this health hazard can be avoided. Radon gas is not isolated to certain geographical areas or home types. Radon problems have been detected in homes in every county of the U.S. It caused more American fatalities last year than carbon monoxide, fires, and handguns combined! If a home hasn’t been tested for radon in the past two years, EPA and the Surgeon General urge you to take action.
The only way to know if there is radon in your home is to test for it. Just hang a small filter in your home for about one week, and mail it for testing in a pre-paid envelope. You can buy this kit at the Kent County Health Department for just $5. Pick one up at 700 Fuller Ave., NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 or call them at 616-632-6900.
Radon test kits are also available from Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, 742 Franklin St., SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507, phone 616-241-3300.
In Montcalm County, check with the Mid-Michigan District Health Department, 615 N. State Rd., Suite 1, Stanton, MI 48888, phone 989-831-5237.
The federal commitment made by EPA, the General Services Administration, and the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Veterans Affairs will focus efforts on radon reduction and mitigation in homes, especially those of low-income families, many of whom do not have the resources to make the simple fixes necessary to protect their homes and loved ones. Learn more about the Federal Radon Action Plan at www.RadonPlan.org.